Amsterdam alcoholics work for beer
Amsterdam alcoholics work for beer

Amsterdam alcoholics work for beer : Report

A group of alcoholics in Amsterdam are being paid five cans of beer a day in return for cleaning the city’s streets.

The private, but government-funded Rainbow Group Foundation employs two groups of 10 men who work three days a week picking up litter.

Each day they get paid €10 (£8) and are given one hot meal, half a packet of cigarettes and five cans of beer.

Fifty-year-old Karel Slinger who’s part of the project said: “In the park, the weather is nice and you can drink a lot of beer. Now you come here and you have something to do. I can’t just sit still. I want to do something.”

Programme director, Gerri Holterman, from the Rainbow Group Foundation, believes that keeping these men occupied with work gives them fewer hours to drink.

“I think we are already successful, when we get them to drink less during the day … This is a start to go towards other projects and get maybe another kind of job,” said Holterman.

According to Holterman, there is a waiting list for those alcoholics who want to join the programme.

Fatima Elatik, district mayor of eastern Amsterdam, works hard to change the view of skeptics.

“For a lot of politicians it was really difficult to accept, ‘So you are giving alcohol?’ No, I am giving people a sense of perspective, and a sense of belonging and a sense of feeling that they are okay and that we need them and that we validate them and we don’t ostracise our people, because these are people that live in our districts,” said Elatik.

There is a waiting list for people wanting to join the group.

The experimental programme has been in place for two years. Other cities are looking at starting similar projects.


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